Papa John's says 'the National Football League has hurt us,' cites declining sales

Members of the Houston Texans kneel during the national anthem before the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Century Link Field

Papa John's is the NFL's most recognized sponsor for the second year in a row, according to an annual survey by SportsBusiness Journal and Turnkey Intelligence.

As reported by ESPN and others, Papa John's founder and CEO John Schnatter said Wednesday that the protests have rubbed off on his pizza chain, an official National Football League sponsor, and Papa John's executives said they had pulled some NFL-associated advertising in response. Last month, Vice President Mike Pence left an Indianapolis Colts game after San Francisco 49ers' players took a knee during the anthem.

"The NFL has hurt us by not resolving the current debacle to the players' and owners' satisfaction", he said during the call, according to Bloomberg.

"This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago", Schnatter said during prepared remarks at the start of the company's quarterly earnings call with Wall Street analysts.

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Papa John's is losing a lot of dough, and the company's CEO is jumping to some pretty out-of-this-world conclusions as to why this has occurred.

Manning went to find Papa John with the quickness, too.

The official pizza (LOL) company of the NFL is angry over the protests and other demonstrations during the national anthem. ESPN also reports that the company has pulled much of its NFL TV advertisements, and that the NFL has responded by offering additional future spots.

Here's a new one: Papa John's declining pizza sales apparently aren't the result of Americans looking to eat healthier, or the rise of on-demand food competition like Uber Eats, or too many options for eating out, or just simple dissatisfaction with the pies that Papa John's itself puts out. "Sponsorship of NFL = No Free Lunch". Meanwhile, NFL ratings have also fallen-a point that Papa John's has also blamed on the ongoing protests - which presumably also lowers the number of people watching the chain's ads and eating its pizza.

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